You’d never know it now but I used to play the piano. I actually took piano lessons for five years, from a really good teacher that my parents forked out a lot of hard earned money for until I finally convinced them to let me quit. Piano practice didn’t sit well with me. That’s why chopsticks is the extent of my repertoire. I’ve pretty much forgotten everything I learned.
But it was a different story for the concert pianist who pointed to “planned neglect” as the reason for her success. “Since childhood, “she said, “I could have devoted my time to sports, boys, even other musical instruments. But instead I intentionally planned to neglect everything else and focus on the one thing that mattered most to me—the piano.”
You get the feeling Jesus wanted Mary and Martha to adopt the same practice. He brought the idea of planned neglect clearly into focus one day while he was hanging out at their home. A bunch of people were there to spend time with him and hear him teach. They knew Jesus was different than anyone they had ever met before. Yet when faced with the opportunity to drop everything else and simply be there with him, Mary & Martha made two very different choices. Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet, while Martha kept busy in the kitchen. And Jesus called Martha on her choice. She was worried and bothered about so many things, while she could have been focusing on something much more important.
Mary & Martha probably had very different personalities. Some of us are people-oriented while others are task-oriented. But wherever you fall on all of that, the bottom line is the same. We all fill up our time with something. We make choices every day and every hour. Sometimes even without thinking about it. So if we really want to make the important things a priority, especially when there’s just too much to do, we’re going to have to plan to neglect other things.
by Dave Gudgel